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By John Pierce

The making of two new baseball-themed movies would be good enough news to me. The fact that they are being filmed in familiar environs adds to the excitement.

Clint Eastwood rolled into Macon, Ga., earlier this year to eat lunch (on film) at a local hangout and to shoot some scenes at historic Luther Williams Field. He plays a baseball scout in Trouble with the Curve.

The film also stars Amy Adams and some guy my daughters mentioned — Timberlake, I believe. Athens, Ga., my daughter’s college town, was also a location for this movie expected out in late September.

Currently Harrison Ford and others are in Macon shooting 42 — a movie about Jackie Robinson who, as Archie Bunker once put it, “changed the complexion of baseball forever.” Some downtown streets have been made to look like Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1947, when Robinson became the first African American to play in the Major Leagues.

Ford, who plays Branch Rickey, the president and general manager of the Dodgers who signed Robinson, and other actors and crew came to Macon last week to shoot at Luther Williams Field. They had wrapped up shooting at historic Engel Stadium in Chattanooga that had been made to look like Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field that was demolished in 1960.

Coincidentally, my family went in the opposite direction for a visit to the Chattanooga area where I born and raised. Out for some exercise last Friday, I decided to trek over to Engel Stadium to see what might have resulted from the movie venture.

To my surprise a baseball scene — with teams and umpires in their ‘40s-style uniforms — was being filmed. I hurried back to my downtown hotel as quickly as possible to get my camera, my car and my family.

There’s an added pleasure in watching movies that were shot in familiar settings — such as Remember the Titans and Sweet Home Alabama — that were filmed at my alma mater, Berry College. That is especially true when the movies, such as those two, are good ones.

Since so many films turn out to be duds, I sure hope these two baseball-themed movies being shot in familiar places will be good ones. But my hope for 42 — the film named after a baseball uniform number that has been retired throughout the Major Leagues — is even greater.

May it be a needed reminder that racial discrimination and bigotry violate the best of human behavior — and that the calling of God is to see inward qualities rather than outward appearances. 

And the late ground-breaking Dodger player can teach us more lessons as well — about discipline, courageous and grace.

Play ball and pass the popcorn.

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